Did you know that today, the 20th of March, in the International Day of Happiness?
Until a couple of days ago I had no idea such a day existed and when a friend of mine mentioned it to me, my cynical mind thought it was a commercial initiative by a well-known international corporation who made ‘happiness’ their tagline.
The International Day of Happiness is, however, not a commercial initiative but rather a day instituted by the UN: in 2011 they adopted a resolution recognising ‘happiness as a fundamental human goal’ and stated that progress should be evaluated on the basis of happiness and wellbeing of individuals and not exclusively on economic indicators. The 20th of March was chosen as the day to recognise such a change.
Happiness and what is truly valuable in life is something we discuss often, with the kids. We live in an over commercialised society and the children (like so many adults) easily fall into believing that if we had ‘more’, we would be happier.
Are we unhappy? No, but the brain works as a differential system and only really notices happiness if it compares it with unhappiness: this means that we often feel as if life has short changed us, until what we have gets taken aways and, as trite as it sounds, we realise we had always taken for granted what we had and now long for.
To counterbalance this, as a family we use our travels and time together to mark that experiences and love, not things, are what makes us fulfilled and we also use books to stimulate discussion and reflections on this point.
These are 5 children books to teach about happiness
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You may also like my post about ‘children books to spark curiosity about the world‘
A Dr Seuss classic, with all that we love about the author: it’s a funny, witty, intelligent and thought-provoking book. The Sneetches are creatures who live in a large community on a beach: they all look similar to each other, but some are born with a star on their belly and some aren’t. But is the star a reason to boast? Or is the mayhem ensuing from trying to be something else proof that the distinction between the haves and have-nots is not so clear cut? I loved this book as a child and love it now as an adult: my kids just discovered it and loved it too, so one generation down, it’s still going strong!
A cute, intelligent book by the same authors of the maybe better known Gruffalo. A woman complains her house is too small and asks a wise man for help: he tells her to bring in a cow, a hen, a goat, and a pig. The woman still feels the house is too small and the wise man suggests to let them out one by one: how does the very same house now?
The kids love the mayhem created by the animals in the house but the message is strong and sticks: it’s also a good book to read when visiting friends with more spacious houses than ours!
If things are not working out at home, you can follow Max’s example and sail away to the land where the wild things are and become their King. But are you sure being terrible and respected for it equals happiness? Could it be you might find yourself longing to go home instead?
This book is over 50 years old and the kids love it. It’s also interesting to see how many modern children classics have gotten inspiration from its writing rhythm.
We got originally drawn to this book by its beautiful illustrations, but the plot and the message captured our children too. It’s a story of discovery and adventure, but mostly about a long way home and what makes home (however you want to define it) special.
A really cute book that is sure to resonate with children as full of familiar characters: what happens if you open your pencil case one day and your crayons are on strike? What are they unhappy about and how can you change this?
I love this book because of its wit but I also love its message: sometimes you are unhappy for a reason and, in that case, you should voice it. If you express it out loud, maybe something can be done about it and you might even get a golden star (symbolic if not real!)
These are 5 books about happiness my kids love. Do you have more to recommend?